Can You Straighten Damp Hair?

Some quick and safe tips to style your moist hair without heat-damaging them.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Archna Agrawal, MSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy Dr. Archna Agrawal Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy facebook_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Monomita Chakraborty MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
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Your hair is in the most fragile state when it is wet. Sandwiching those damp strands between the hot plates of a flat iron can damage them. Does this mean you can never straighten damp hair? Well, you notice a sizzling sound with steam rising from damp hair whenever you try to straighten it. The heat simply damages the structure of the hair. This may eventually cause hair fall and other hair issues.

protip_icon Did You Know?

The hair straightening technique came into existence sometime around the 1890s and became popular in the 1950s.

So, are there any alternatives? This article discusses why you must avoid straightening damp hair and some tips to style your hair without damage. Keep reading to know more.

Why Avoid Straightening Damp Hair?

Woman with frizzy hair from heat damage
Image: Shutterstock

Avoid straightening wet hair as it may cause long-term damage to your hair.

Water boils and turns into steam at 100°C (212°F). Most hair straighteners function in the temperature range of 185-230°C (365-446°F). The temperature of the flat iron surface is greater than the boiling point of water.

Naturally, the second the hot straightener touches your wet hair, the water turns into steam and  evaporates rapidly out of the cortex (inner layer of the hair), causing structural damage. This damages the cortex and cuticles and leads to hair breakage, frizzy, and coarse hair (1).

Therefore, you should avoid using a straightener on wet hair. Fortunately, there are ways to straighten wet tresses without using heat! Learn how to do it in the next section.

How To Straighten Wet Hair Without Heat

  1. Start with freshly washed hair. Use a microfiber towel to gently towel-dry it until it’s damp and not dripping wet.
  2. Apply some leave-in conditioner and use a wide-toothed to remove all tangles and distribute the conditioner evenly.
  3. Part your hair down the middle, creating two equal sections.
  4. Take one section and twist it tightly, working from the roots to the tips.
  5. Wrap the twisted section around your head and secure it with bobby pins. Repeat the same with the other section.
  6. Allow your hair to air-dry in this twisted ‘do for several hours or overnight.
  7. Once it is completely dry, carefully unravel the twists and use your fingers to gently comb through your hair for a naturally straight look.
  8. Finish off with a lightweight hair serum for added shine.

Alexandra, a beauty vlogger, shares her experience of straightening her curly hair with the help of a band, some bobby pins, and a scarf. She notes, “I love this so much. The first time I tried it I wanted to tell you guys it wasn’t so easy. It didn’t turn out perfect and it took a lot of trial and error (i).”

In the next section, we have shared some quick hair styling tips. You can follow these when you are in a hurry to get smooth and frizz-free hair without damage.

Tips To Quickly Style Your Hair Without Damage

1. Use A Microfiber Towel

Woman drying her hair with microfiber towel before straightening it
Image: IStock

Microfiber towels can absorb water quickly and make it easier to dry hair quickly. Squeeze your hair with the microfiber towel. Do not rub. This will reduce the blow-drying time.

2. Do Not Skip The Conditioner

Woman using conditioner on hair
Image: IStock

A conditioner moisturizes your hair and makes it soft and manageable. Well-moisturized hair does not have to cling to the water for moisture, and thus, it air-dries faster.

3. Blow Dry With Cool Air

Woman blow drying hair on cool setting
Image: Shutterstock

Blow dry your hair on a cool setting as it helps seal your hair cuticles and add shine. It also prevents heat damage.

4. Wash Your Hair At Night

Another option is to wash your hair the previous night. Your hair will be completely dry by the morning and in a better condition for heat styling. This will also save time during the morning rush.

5. Skip The Hair Wash

Woman applying dry shampoo on her hair before straightening it
Image: Shutterstock

If you do not have time for any of the tips mentioned above, it is better to skip washing your hair altogether and straighten it dry. You may also use a dry shampoo and conditioner to give your hair a quick pick-me-up.

protip_icon Quick Tip

Since heat straightening may dry out your hair, drink plenty of water, apply oil, and sleep well to retain the natural moisture of your mane.

Infographic: 5 Tips To Keep In Mind For Quick Hair Styling

We all are conscious of the ill effects of using styling appliances on wet hair, especially when we plan on straightening it. You don’t have to avoid experimenting with various looks. We have listed down the most effective tips that will cut short your hair drying time, thereby preventing heat damage and, in turn, speeding up your styling process. Go ahead and check out the infographic below!

5 tips to keep in mind for quick hair styling (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

In short, you should not straighten damp hair. Damp or wet hair is more susceptible to damage since it leaves your hair more porous. Applying heat to wet hair leads to breakage, frizz, and a change in hair texture. You may notice your hair feeling rough and coarse. However, if you are in a hurry, you should blow dry your hair on a low setting. And if you are in a pinch, use a dry shampoo to give your hair some texture and volume. Scroll up to read through the additional tips you should follow to straighten your hair without damaging it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to straighten your hair every day?

No. Straightening your hair every day can lead to hair damage due to excessive heat exposure.

Should you use hairspray before or after straightening?

Using a heat protectant spray before straightening your hair can save it from damage and lock in the style and moisture. Use a regular hairspray afterward to set the hairstyle.

Is damp hair the same as wet hair?

No. Wet hair is completely soaked and drips water. However, damp hair is slightly wet but not dripping.

Key Takeaways

  • Straightening damp hair can cause long-term damage.
  • When the hot hair straightener touches wet hair, it causes it to turn frizzy or coarse and break.
  • Using a microfiber towel, blow drying with cool air, and using a conditioner in your hair care routine can help minimize the damage.
  • If you want to use hot tools on your hair, consider using a heat protectant.
Can I Straighten My Wet Hair? Is It Safe?

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Straightening damp hair is not the best idea. But if you really have to do it, check out this video to learn how to straighten wet hair to dry for a sleek look.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The effects of water on heat-styling damage
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21443842/
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Dr. Archna Agrawal

Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics)

Dr. Archna Agrawal is a licensed naturopathy and yoga practitioner with over 20 years of experience in nutrition and counseling. She is also certified in nutrition, child care, and mind-body medicine and is on a mission to help people attain innate healing capacity without having to depend on anything or on anyone
Read full bio of Dr. Archna Agrawal